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Monday, November 9, 2009

San Francisco to San Diego

After a few days of relaxing back at home in the Bay Area I decided to take a brief vacation down to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico where my good buddy, Arji Rashidi, was getting married. Because I bought my ticket last minute I was forced to depart SFO at 7:00 AM Friday morning and endure an eight hour layover in Mexico City before finally arriving at my hotel in PV at around midnight. I wouldn't have arrived at all if my very good friend Rumi did not wake me up at 4:30 AM and haul me to the airport, which I am very grateful for. Puerto Vallarta was an incredible time as always and the wedding was beautiful.
I was also very happy to see my friends Craig and his wife Marlena as well as my buddy Victor, whom live in the PV area. Also, by coincidence, my childhood friend Lawrence Lionetti was in town staying at his immaculate condo on the beach. With the addition of Mr. Sean Breuner, his girlfriend Tracy, and about 50 more friends and family of the bride and groom, it turned out to be quite a memorable weekend.

Like all weekend vacations, when Monday rolled around it was time to return home and go back to work. Luckily, in my case that meant flying back to San Francisco to bike down to LA with the infamous Jeff Urton. Most of you will remember Jeff from previous blogs such as the Alaska fishing trip when he gracefully lit himself on fire on the first night of a 7 day float trip. With his burns fully healed he decided he was ready to once again join the Pebble Pedalers on their journey south. With only a couple brief conversations of coordination and planning I was very relieved to see Jeff waiting for me at the airport with his bike and gear ready to rock. We headed back to my house for one last meal with the family and prepare for our departure the next morning. To our dismay we were delayed a day by a record breaking storm that slammed into Central and Northern California. However, we were not nearly as dismayed as Seth who had left for LA 4 days earlier and was in between Big Sur and San Luis Obispo at the time the storm hit California. He endured 10 inches of rain in a single day and had to battle headwinds up to 100mph for 35 miles into SLO where he luckily had a warm place to stay with his former boss's brother in law, Dave Cohune.

With the worst of the storm behind us, I said farewell to Mom and Dad and pushed south. As we always like to thank the people that help us along the way we must once again thank our parents for all of their support throughout the trip. We had been dreaming of our Mom's cooking for 5 months and will undoubtedly be missing it again for the next year. It was very surreal to be leaving home for another long journey but it felt great to be back on the road. It didn't take long to see some incredible sights and views as we rode the edge of the San Francisco Bay and crossed the Golden Gate Bridge. After passing thru SF, Daly City, Pacifica and the infamous Devil's Slide we finally finished a long day at Half Moon Bay State Park. Seth had warned me that there were raccoons that lived in the tree at this hiker/biker site that had stolen his food bag a few says earlier. Before I got in my tent that night I grabbed my still unused bear spray just in case of any trouble. Sure enough, I woke up later that night to see a raccoon with his claws inside Jeff's side bag actually removing his camera and starting to make an exit. I immediately reached for the canister of bear spray, leapt out of my tent and blasted the coon directly in the face from point blank range. It dropped Jeff's camera and sprinted back up its tree while making a horrible noise. Needless to say we were not bothered for the remainder of the night and I was very proud to have finally capitalized on a chance to use the bear spray which I had been hauling around for over 3000 miles.


The next day we pushed past Santa Cruz to Aptos where we stayed the night at our college buddy and my former teammate, Nate Chandra's house. His mom cooked us a delicious roast and sent us on our way the next morning fully rested and ready for a long day to Big Sur. Big Sur is an amazing place that encompasses all of the best parts of California into one coastal town. You get the big redwoods typical of Northern California mixed with the weather and coastline more commonly found in Central and Southern California. The next day we decided to take it easy and go about 40 miles to Plaskett which is just a few miles south of Kirk Creek. Both Plaskett and Kirk Creek are probably the two most beautiful state campgrounds in California. I arrived at Plaskett at about 3PM, found a spot to camp and laid down to read while I waited for Jeff to arrive. After a couple hours had passed I started to get a little bit worried as there was really no way that Jeff could have been that far behind me on a 40 mile ride. When another hour passed and it began to get dark I wondered if somehow he had passed the campground without me seeing him and just continued south. I even asked a couple motorist if they had seen a cyclist anywhere north of Plaskett and they saud they hadn't. Just as I was about to start making some calls to see if there had been an accident I saw Jeff pull into the campground wearing only a pair of skin tight spandex pants and no shirt with a grin from ear to ear.

He casually strolled up to where I was reading and told me the following story as only Jeff can:
I was cruising along and enjoying the scenery of the beautiful California coast when I came upon a car pulled over on the side of the road. Three old women who looked exactly like the Golden Girls jump out of the car and flag me down. They inform me that they were coming around a sharp turn and hit a large rock in the middle of the road which blew out their tire. They tried calling AAA but there were no trucks available to assist them (or so they say). Being the good samaritan that I am I told them that I would be happy to help them put on the spare. They were amazed and relieved that I knew how to fix a flat and started telling me that I look exactly like Matthew McConaughey.
From that point forward they would only refer to me as Matthew. I got the spare out of the trunk, jacked up the car, and took the wheel with the flat off of the car. Just as I was about to put on the spare the jack folded in half and the car fell right onto the rotor. I was horrified that I had just destroyed their car but all they kept say was, “Matthew are you okay!” I assured them that I was fine and couldn't believe they did not have any concern for their vehicle. Luckily, a couple of women in a raised pick-up truck who looked as though they had changed a few tires in their day pulled over to help. This time we had a much more heavy duty jack and we wedged a log underneath it to level it out and create a better platform. We raised the car again and just as one of the women was putting on the spare I could see the log slipping. I grabbed her out of the way and the car slammed onto its rotor for the second time. Once again the Golden Girls were not concerned with their car or the two other women for that matter. All they cared about was if Matthew was okay. Finally a AAA truck passed by which had just helped out another car that had hit the same rock. The guy jacked it up and put on the spare in about 5 minutes. They didn't so much as thank the guy, but gave me hugs and took their picture with me. They told me they were on a “Girls Trip” and when I turned to leave, one of them grabbed my spandex and shoved a $10 bill down my pants. They left me saying that my girlfriend was the luckiest girl in the world.

Thanks to the Golden Girls, Jeff and I camped for free that night. All Jeff had to do was destroy 2 jacks and drop a car on its rotor twice while being shirtless and wearing spandex.

That night we drank beers with some guys at the campsite next to us who we found out knew some of the same people we knew in Santa Barbara back in college.
The next day we made the 80 mile trek to San Louis Obispo where we stayed with Dave and Ellen Cohune. Ellen made us an amazing dinner and afterwards Jeff talked trash to their son Garrett until he agreed to play him in Madden Football on Garrett's XBOX 360. The rest of us watched TV downstairs and could hear Jeff yelling every time he scored a touchdown. I later asked Jeff why he was taunting the kid so bad and he informed me that if Garrett didn't call such weak plays he wouldn't have had to beat him so badly.

The next day we made it to Lompoc where we got a ride East to Jeff's hometown of Santa Ynez. His pops, Ted, made us a feast that night and we relaxed, drank beers and watched playoff baseball. We decided to take the following day off as his dad offered to treat us to a round of golf at the famous Alisol Golf Course, which I have wanted to play for years. He even sent us off with a cooler of beer and sandwiches for the coarse. This was the first time I had played golf in many months and it felt great to spend a day swinging the clubs in the sun. I must thank both Jeff and Ted for being such amazing hosts and making sure my first trip to the Santa Ynez Valley was a memorable one. They even took me out to the restaurant in the movie Sideways where Thomas Haden Church hooks up with the overweight waitress.

After being dropped back in Lompoc we pushed past Santa Barbara to Carpenteria State Beach where we camped and played bocci ball on the beach. The next morning we were woken up very early by a work crew that had to repair a septic tank about 10 feet from where we were sleeping so we moved on as soon as we could get ready. We only had a short day to make it into Malibu where our friends Marco and Andrew were going to meet us at Leo Carrillo State Beach campground. I had not seen these guys since I left 5 months earlier so it turned out to be a late night with a stern lecture from the ranger the following morning about noise and the acceptable size of a camp fire. The next day we arrived at Jeff's house in Hermosa Beach and we rested up to prepare for our first night back in LA.
That night we went out in Santa Monica and I was very excited to see many of my friends that I had not seen in a while including the always interesting and beautiful Kimberly Lindgren. Even Lawrence left downtown LA and came out to the beaches for a night.

After a few days of laying on the beach, Seth returned from his wedding in SF and we headed out for San Diego.
It was a very sad day when I had to say farewell to Mr. Jeff Urton and know that I would no longer have the legendary stories and phenomenal times that are guaranteed when he is present.
Nonetheless the trip must go on and we were very pleased to have Adrian Andrews join us for the 2 day ride from LA to SD. He decided the night before we left that he would drive down to to LA from San Francisco at 9:00PM and meet us first thing in the morning ready to bike. Sure enough he was in Hermosa Beach bright and early and we took off about noon. That night we made it through LA, Long Beach and Orange County and camped in San Clemente State Park. The next day we rolled into my former home town and the greatest place on Earth, San Diego!

3 comments:

Lila said...

This is a long overdue message, my apologies... I met you guys in Anchorage, AK when you came into the Glacier Brewhouse and I was your server (and my busser accidently spilled water on you). Anyways, I've been reading your blog and it sounds like you guys are having the most epic and fun adventure. Keep up the hard work, you guys are awesome and what you are doing to raise awareness really is incredible. I'm still down for meeting up in Tierra Del Fuego.
Much love,
Lila

Parker Berling said...

Lila,

Great to hear from you! I'm glad you have been following our travels and I'm sure you are ready to take a little vacation yourself. We are in Loreto, Mexico right now and the weather is a pefect 75-80 degrees right now. We just finished a 5 day kayak trip hopping around from island to island in the Sea of Cortez. Tierra Del Fuego is right around the corner... Sometimes I don't see these posts for a while so feel free to email me at parkerberling@gmail.com. Take care and hope Alaska isn't too cold right now.

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